The Search for Matriarchy


What does matriarchy mean to you?

We Seem To Be Having a Debate

Was there a time in human history when matriarchal (matriarchy meaning female rulership) societies dominated and then were replaced with serial patriarchy which is where we are now? There seems to be real passion involved and terms such as matriarchalism, matrifocal and matrilineal swirl through the debate.

Notable in the debate is the book The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why An Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future by Cynthia Eller. Eller is described as setting out “to refute what she describes as feminist matriarchalism as an ‘ennobling lie’”. From what I could see this does not seem to be a dispassionate academic debate. Naturally it is a little hard to rush back into history and see exactly what happened. And reports may be biased. Surprise, surprise. 

And then there is the question of how to characterize periods of rule by women. In fact, Britain has a rather long history. Was the time of Queen Elizabeth 1 a matriarchy? How about Queen Victoria and the current queen? Somehow I think matriarchy is a little over the top as a description. Men did not exactly fade away.

Goddesses Are Prominent 

Throughout history women have held various kinds of power. Goddesses are prominent in human history and we invoke some truly strong imagery. We describe our planet as being ruled by an earth mother and mother nature is always with us. In fact, I chose Gaia as our Earth Goddess for my trilogy because it invoked the images I sought. Clearly many of the images relate to the fact that each of us has a mother. These are archetypes (recurrent symbols and motifs) with substantive meaning. I do not view them as part of the debate. Something else is going on.

Part of what is going on seems to be an underlying debate about whether patriarchal dominance is inevitable or whether it is a matter of dominance at this time. But, now I’m going to shift gears. The inevitability of male dominance is unlikely and at issue and we are seeing a new movement empowering women. 

Then There Are the Feminist Movements

There are other terms of interest. The women’s movement of the 1970s is described as the second wave of feminism. At the time it caught my attention and I found it well worth supporting. And more recently came the third-wave feminist movement beginning in the 1990s. It apparently arose from the backlash against second-wave feminism initiatives. And now we have something called the current feminist sex wars. That seems apt in describing the controversy flowing around Eller’s book. 

Debate Versus Goals

Now I’ll ask the question which is the real point of this post. Why are we having this debate at all? Do we have to decide if there is some great given right for men to rule now and forever or if women are brought in to rule and is it to become eternal. What a monumental waste of time.

At some point we risk wish replacing thought. That description may characterize the debate since there are surely different agendas behind the scene. And so, let me return to Sally Armstrong’s book Uprising: A New Age Is Dawning for Every mother’s Daughter. She describes the movement worldwide and the benefits derived.

Benefits and Justice

It would seem more productive if we focused on the benefits and what constitutes justice of all kinds. As noted, we hear little about the real reason for income inequality, for example. A lot of cards are not on the table when it comes to equality for women and that would be a better focus for analysis and understanding as well as outing the perpetrators.

Equality and Partnership 

It might be interesting to view the effects of matriarchy, matrifocal societies and matrilineal processes but it may be they are not going to give guidance in the current circumstances. It would seem more productive to accept the benefits of empowerment of women and to look at the barriers to equality and partnership in our present day. Then we can set an agenda and do away with squabbles about history. We have work to do in the here and now.

What are your biggest concerns about health care?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

More Than A Cause



The Leadership of Women

In what ways do you think women will show special leadership?

Without question the role of women is being enhanced across the world. In almost every society they are being empowered and permitted new or enhanced roles. I’m utterly fascinated and have been since I saw women’s liberation blossoming in the 1960s. It just felt right.

When my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy began to stir it was intuitively obvious that the people who would lead humankind to a new future had to be women. Not that men were excluded but Gaia would clearly have chosen women as central. The goal, of course, was true partnership between men and women as part of the outcome of a new age.

Throughout the Ages

The search for enchantment in mythology led me to Gaia, the mysterium tremendum and uncovering the fact that before the present patriarchal dominance there were matriarchal societies which did not mean power but guidance. In the ancient world there were strong matriarchal religions. And equality and strong female figures adorned native American societies. I’m sure that there are many rich and fascinating stories to enlighten our current existence and future development.

But, for now, I’m staying in the present day. I’ve gone onto the internet to see what is transpiring and found considerable variation. One group I tried to relate to seemed to be for women only. No male commentary or involvement was permitted. I understand men can be domineering, but as the movement advances, we do need to talk to each other.

International Conversations

I found a very different group on Goodreads where we are all talking together and it is a conversation across the world. Most of the posts are in English because it is so broadly spoken but some contributions may be in Spanish, French or Norwegian, for example. It seems we are tentative with each other at times, but it is a rich experience.

This Goodreads group chooses a new book to read each month and the first one was Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road. She is now in her seventies and still energetic and dedicated. I remember her entry into the American experience and my wife and I became subscribers to MS Magazine when it started. With all the decades of struggle she has endured, she remains dedicated, focused and her anger is limited. The tone tells us she is authentic and honest. I won’t even try to summarize the book. It took me back, brought me forward and rewarded me with a further enhancement of my own belief in the future of the empowerment of women and what it will surely bring.

Stunning Reality

What is happening regarding women in human society is not fiction. It is real, substantive and important with outcomes we can only dream of. There is much more to come in future commentaries.

What conclusions have you reached?

Gaia’s Majesty: Discovery Amazon page

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page